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Hospital Punished for Taking Stolen Cards
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A hospital in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, has been fined 100,000 yuan (US$12,820) for accepting payment by stolen social security cards last year, social security fund officials told a press conference yesterday.

The officials did not reveal the name of the hospital but warned social security card owners to keep their cards safe.

The two cards were used on the same day. One of them was used nine times, the other 19 times. Almost all the money on the cards -- totaling nearly 10,000 yuan -- was used to buy a diabetes medicine, Novolin, said Du Bin, a spokesman for the social security fund center. Nine doctors and 13 accountants were involved, he said.

The owners of the cards did not report their loss to the social security fund center, although one of them reported it to the police, Du said.

According to Chinese law, social security cards can only be used by and for the cardholders, and hospitals are obliged to check holders' identities. Hospitals can be fined six to 10 times the medical costs of anyone using stolen or borrowed cards.

Shen Hualiang, director with the medical insurance department under the municipal labor and social security bureau, said the thief or thieves probably had bought the medicine to resell for cash. "It's unusual for one person to buy Novolin nine times in one day," he said.

Similar cases have been reported in other cities. Medicines for tumors and diabetes are the most popular for thieves because they are in high demand, Shen said.

The social security fund center launched an investigation into the hospital after the Southern Metropolis Daily reported that a man was asking social security cardholders to buy medicines from the hospital and sell them to him at a 40-percent discount.

In the report published March 29, the man told a reporter posing as a cardholder that somebody had sold medicines worth more than 10,000 yuan. The reporter found the man from sticker advertisements in Yuanling area, Luohu District.

More than 6 million Shenzheners are covered by the social security medical insurance scheme with an average 3,000 yuan in each participant's account. Each participant can pay his or her medical fees from the account with the social security fund covering part of the remaining cost.

Shen said it did not make sense for ordinary people to buy medicines with their own cards and re-sell them to others at a 40-percent discount. "Only stolen cards can be used that way," said Shen.

The case is still being investigated.

(Shenzhen Daily April 4, 2007)

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